Nov 27, 2013

SLR Camera Basics

I'm in the process of getting into photography and taking the initiative to learn from camera savvy friends as well as learning what I can online.

I have my eye on the Canon Rebel SL1, a light weight camera, and good beginner SLR camera.

Nikon has a great SLR beginner's tutorial which I have been learning.

Anatomy of a Camera

View Finder / Eye Piece

The area that you look through in a camera that frames the picture. Just like peering into an "eyepiece" of a microscope in order to view an image that is being magnified.

Image Sensor

The image sensor picks up the light filtered through the camera (past the lens, aperture and shutter) and is what ultimately creates the picture.

Shutter Speed: Control for Blur

The shutter "curtain" covers the image sensor. When you press the "Shutter-release" button, the shutter curtain is raised allowing the light onto the image sensor to the take picture.

Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, 1 second, 1/4 second, 1/500th's of a second. Therefore the larger the number, the slower the shutter speed. The prime symbol "f" is sometimes placed for shutter speeds less than 1 second instead of displaying it in fraction form.

 A "fast" shutter-release means that the image sensor is exposed to light for a short period of time. You get a "frozen-in-time" effect of an object that is moving, good for taking pictures of moving subjects:

A "slow" shutter release means the image sensor is exposed to light for a long period of time. The image will appear blurry:

Aperture: Depth of Field/Distance of Focus

Aperture adjusts how much light is able to filter through, very similar to the size of our pupils. A larger aperture size means more light is allowed in and for the human eye, this occurs when a room is dark and we want to let in more light so we can see more. A small Aperture size allows very little light in; and for our eye, the pupil size gets smaller when we are in a room with bright light in order not to overexpose or overwhelm our eyes with too much light.

This is often expressed as an "f" number. Changing "f" number changes the size of the aperture and therefore the amount of light that is allowed into the camera. Small apertures means MORE light is let into the camera; where as larger f-number aperture means LESS light is let into the camera.

A larger aperture size (smaller f-number) allows you to focus on objects in a further distance, whereas a smaller aperture size (larger f-number) allows you to focus on a particular point whilst blurring everything else.

{Exposure Guide : Focusing Basics} DOF = depth of field

To Achieve Bokeh Effect:

  • A high Max Aperture (LOW f-number e.g. f/1.8) giving us a shallow depth of field (DOF)
  • Lens - a larger focal length for macro photography

Basics to Photography Infographic

How To Take Great Digital SLR Photos

Nov 25, 2013

Dessert Ideas from Mandarin Buffet

Nothing particularly special about Mandarin, but I decided to take some pictures to save ideas for dessert ideas later :)

We went to Mandarin Buffet for my cousin's 17th birthday. There was lots of snow but it was nice to see the decorum and feel the warmth once we were inside:

I was able to eat 4 dishes of main and 2 dessert plates. I did very well considering:

Lemon Merengue Pie:

Some NewYork Style Cheesecake:

And a few desserts:

My fortune cookie:

My cousin William:

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Nov 22, 2013

Ethiopiques: Ethiopian Food

I had an opportunity to take advantage of a Groupon for Ethiopiques an Ethopian Restaurant.

Martha Stewart's Shortbread Cookies

I used a modification of Martha Stewart's Shortbread Cookies Recipe and made delicious shortbread cookies. Its an easy recipe and doesn't require too many ingredients.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (or 1 cup) of butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar (or icing sugar)


Step 1: In a mixing bowl, mix together sifted flour and salt. Set aside.

Step 2: Mix the 2 sticks of butter in a beater on low:

until the butter is light and fluffy! Use a utensil to scrape down the butter in the sides. 

Step 3: While the mixer is beating the butter, add confectioner's sugar gradually. Then add the flour/salt mixture all at once. 

Step 4: The texture should look a lot like mashed potatoes. 

Step 5: Spoon the dough onto a baked sheet and press flat with the bottom of a spoon. Make sure the cookies are all the same thickness so they cook evenly. 


Step 6: Place in the oven for one hour until they are browned. 

and Voila! Shortbread Cookies. 

Nov 18, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I purchased the ingredients from Longos on the way home.

Step 1: Cornstarch and Eggs

I began with slicing the chicken into cubes. I then dipped it into corn starch and then covered them in eggs.

Step 2: Deep fry in Canola Oil in Pan until Brown

Step 3: Create Sweet and Sour Sauce

Step 4: Bake in the Oven for 1 hour

Roasted Asparagus with Marble Cheese

I used a recipe from but substituted the Parmesan and Marble Cheese. This is one of my favourite dishes and it only takes 15 minutes per week. 

Toronto Eats: Ga Bin Korean Restaurant

After dragonboat practice, I headed with some of the teammates to a Korean Restaurant nearby. We always get excited when there is an authentic Korean restaurant (to us that means Korean restaurants actually run by Korean people).

We went to the Ga Bin Korean Restaurant, which featured "Smokeless" Korean BBQ.

Dragon Practice Entry #1 - First Day

So I went to my first dragonboat trial practice ever. The practice location was all the way at Scarborough; and I have to travel from Union Station. The entire commute was 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I joined the dragonboat tryout through a friend at Salsa, who is part of a Chinese Youth Group (I'm not Chinese, but thats okay, I can still participate). 21 people came to the practice and there are 20 people on a boat, with a minimum of 8 girls that are required on the boat.

I am excited to do this for a couple of reasons: I'll have a goal to work towards and I'll get the opportunity to meet new people and new friends.

Nov 16, 2013

Toronto Desserts: Prairie Girl Bakery

So I had the opportunity to visit the infamous Prairie Girl Bakery which specializes in Cupcakes. They had a variety of flavours, special cupcake of the day and everything was freshly made.

One of my good friends had brought cupcakes from Prairie Girl Bakery at a Girls Night we had a while back. So I decided to visit this downtown location at King St East and Victoria Street intersection.

I ended up getting the mini ones and they were delicious!!

Vanilla/Vanilla and Red Velvet/Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Prairie Girl Cupcake Bakery

The store front!

Menu and service.

Their "cupcake wall" of different cupcake protraits

Their large cupcakes were actually HUGE with generous amounts of icing.

Serviced on purple napkins, very classy!

Toronto Travel: St. Lawrence Market

I've been to St. Lawrence Market before; but I had an opportunity to appreciate the city in a whole different light as a resident of downtown Toronto. It was walking distance from my place and took no time at all to reach there. What was especially nice was how I didn't have to find parking in the chaos of Toronto traffic.

I definitely want to take the time to visit again and take some time to go through the vendors more slowly. I also have to bring more cash, as some locations (most locations) do not accept credit or debit cards.

Carousel Bakery: Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwiches

This location has received so much media attention and visits from famous celebrities (both from and outside of the cooking world).

Breakfast Sandwich which included cheese, egg, and peameal bacon. 

Other Vendors

It was hard to tell if the fish was priced competitively with local grocery stores, but it looked super fresh!

The meats were fresh cuts and competitively fresh, especially chicken breasts. I became convinced after this trip to do my grocery shopping here!

Several mustards and finishing sauces up for sampling with pretzels and with meat. Delicious!

I'm not sure of the reputation of their cupcakes; however, they were quite pricey ($2.62 for a large cupcake).